Unidentified men attacked dissident blogger and human rights activist Hu Jia as he was returning to his Beijing home on 16 July. The target of permanent police surveillance, Hu believes the attack was prompted by the “Return to Tiananmen Square” online campaign that was launched to mark the pro-democracy movement’s 25th anniversary.
Are the Chinese authorities resorting to violence in the absence of valid arguments? Hu sustained injuries to the head and abdomen in the attack, which he immediately reported at a nearby police station. The police registered his complaint but no arrests have been made.
“This attack on Hu Jia is intolerable,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk. “He was clearly targeted and, in the light of his account, it is highly likely that the attack was carried out or at least instigated by the Chinese authorities.
“We call on the entire international community to react promptly. How many more disappearances, beatings and reports citing torture will be needed before the Chinese government finally becomes the target of the tough statements and gestures it deserves?”
Hu was assaulted as he was about to get into his car, which was parked near the Caofang metro stop in the district of Chaoyang. Several men beat him and then left in their own car.
Hu did not get the car’s licence number but said he thought he recognized some of his assailants as men who are normally posted near his home with the job of watching him. The attack took place right beside his parked car, where a red cross on the ground reinforced the suspicion that it was planned.
Asked about a possible motive, Hu named the “Return to Tiananmen Square” campaign, which dissidents launched to mark the 25th anniversary of the massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators on 4 June 1989. The campaign is a source of much annoyance to the authorities.
Hu was recently abducted from his home during official visits by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US secretary of state John Kerry. Abduction has also been used with other dissidents such as the Tibetan writer Tsering Woeser to prevent them from seeing visiting foreign officials.
Hu had also urged Internet users to visit Liu Xia, the wife of Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel peace laureate who has been detained since December 2008.
China is ranked 175th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.